President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday urged Israeli authorities to step up their development of Arab-majority neighborhoods of East Jerusalem as a fulfillment of the ethos of the reunited capital, saying “prosperity” should not be enjoyed only in Jewish West Jerusalem.
Speaking at a ceremony for Jerusalem Day, when Israel commemorates the capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and the city’s reunification, Rivlin also praised US President Donald Trump and his administration for recognizing the city as the capital and moving the embassy there.
“Now is the time to thank President Trump and the American people for his steadfast friendship and for his groundbreaking decision,” Rivlin said at Ammunition Hill. “Thankfully, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is touching hearts, and other embassies have come to Jerusalem and doubtless many more will come in the future.
But, he added, “at the same time we, too, have a mission, and we must recognize Jerusalem as our united capital — East and West.
“Jerusalem is flourishing as never before: Ultra-Orthodox alongside secular, new immigrants alongside veterans, old people dwelling in its streets… Entrepreneurs are reaping praise, and tourists do not forgo a visit here.
“But woe betide us if the growth and prosperity of Jerusalem stops at the place where the border once crossed,” Rivlin cautioned. “Woe betide us if growth and innovation skip over the eastern part of the city and its Arab residents.
“True, there is some change and the government and municipality have begun taking meaningful steps in recent years to close the gaps. But there is still a very long way to go. And we must be sure to move from words and plans to action. Sidewalks, street lights, baby-care clinics, parks and schools,” he said.
“We still talk about East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem as if we were talking about two different cities – but this is not the case,” Rivlin added.
“There is only one city, one Jerusalem. There is the west and there is the east, but Jerusalem is one, one and the same.”
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later extended sovereignty over it in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community. The Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as their future capital.